Fieldwork booklet from the RGS-IBG

We're coming into fieldwork season now. Students are heading out to do their fieldwork and data collection. We had some trips this week from my school.
Some colleagues are concerned about the support coming from awarding bodies, and there are various forms of assistance, not all of which they may be familiar with or aware of. I picked one of these up at the GA Conference from the RGS-IBG stand.

Download here (link will download a PDF)

GA Conference 2017 #11 - No more tiers...

SPC workshop – No more tiers (or tears)
I co-presented this workshop with colleagues from the Secondary Committee: Kathryn Stephenson and Rachel Kay, with help from Tanith Ludlam.
Once again there were more people in the room than we had space for with over 60 delegates choosing our session.
The session began with Kathryn Stephenson identifying the background to exam questions: the assessment objectives. Through a number of quizzes, she identified how different questions might be able to assess these (bearing in mind that there was a mark allocation which was spread across the papers)

Rachel Kay then talked about the ideas she uses to identify and support students with answering the most difficult questions.

There were some interesting discussions amongst the delegates, which is always a key element of the SPC workshops that we run.

I finished off the session by putting the answering of exam questions in the context of the questions in textbooks which teachers might use to help students prepare for the exams, and also the development of these questions.

Some issues I mentioned:

- time – how long students will need to answer questions and how long they will take

- timetabling (this year, Geography exams are in the afternoon, and students will have had English in the morning - not ideal)
We had good feedback at the end of the session, using post-it notes as we traditionally do. All the comments were between 7 and 9, on our 1-9 scale. Thanks for coming...

GA Conference 2017 #10 - Google Expeditions Research Paper

There was a range of VR sessions at the GA conference. Richard and Ellena led a workshop based on one that I attended in Toulouse last year on creating your own VR experiences.

Shailey Minocha was at the event, and she did a research paper session where she shared a document which she kindly had allowed me to collaborate on.
Read more about it, and see the powerpoint deck here.
Shailey and Ana came into my school last year, and I've since worked with Twig World to write some Google Expeditions materials. You can view them on TES Resources by searching.

Bedales School Geography Festival - a reminder

A reminder of this event, coming up at the end of June. I have a prior engagement so can't make it, but it looks really interesting.
From Paul Turner, who's organising the event:

I’d like to extend a warm invitation, for you and your students, to our Geography Festival: Can geography help us avert catastrophe? on Thu 29 June.

The one day event is targeted primarily towards lower sixth students having completed their internal exams but would also be suitable for enthusiastic Y10’s.

We have a brilliant line up in what will be a discursive and engaging day designed to draw students in and develop their critical understanding of geography. Book tickets here:

Tickets are just £10.84!

The format of the day will include:

Opening Lectures – Where might catastrophe come from?
·        Wanda Wyporska – Executive Director - The Equality Trust
·        Sien van der Plank – Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholar – University of Southampton

Panel Discussion – How can geography help?
·        David Lambert – Professor of Geography Education – UCL Institute of Education
·        Carl Lee – Tutor – Working with Communities Programme – University of Sheffield
·        Benjamin Hennig – Associate Professor in Geography – University of Iceland

Workshops – What can we do?
·        Fuel Poverty Action
·        Sew Solid Crew
·        Poetry Workshop
·        South Downs National Park Authority
·        Population Matters

There will be a variety of stalls and other activities during the day which will culminate in Live Music from a suitably political musician.

Famous for 15... tenths of a second....

Last year, we had a refresh of the school website for King's Ely, where I work.

There were some days of drone filming, and others where a film crew came into lessons and filmed events and took numerous photos. I was filmed working with a Year 9 group.
You can see the results below, which feature the school, and some colleagues, and the huge variety of opportunities we provide for students.
There's also a separate video for the Junior area where I teach, where my classroom door gets a few seconds of fame.

I feature in the Senior video for a subliminal moment - blink and you'll miss it... can you spot me? (I'll post a screen grab in a few days to make it easier)

Welcome Video from King's Ely on Vimeo.

GA Conference 2017 #9 - FOLSIG Questionnaire

One of the things launched at the GA conference was a questionnaire on fieldwork and outdoor learning which was developed by Philip Monk and other colleagues on the Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning Special Interest Group.

If you had time to fill the survey in, that would help to inform the GA's future support for Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning.
It's embedded below as well if you had time to help out.

One of the really useful resources that I picked up at the conference was from the Field Studies Council, and is a guide to GIS.

They also offer a range of CPD courses for teachers at a low price.

Geography Photography Competition

A competition being organised by the University of Birmingham offers a potential activity for the summer term for many.
The theme of the competition is "Changing Places", which offers a great range of options for images in a range of locations.
Good luck if you enter the competition - I will be suggesting some of my students give it a go...

Useful EcoRegions and Biomes map

For those who need an interactive map of Biomes or Ecoregions, look here...

GA Conference 2017 #8 - the Exhibition

One of the great aspects of the GA Conference is the exhibition. Over the years, I've worked with a large proportion of the companies that exhibit, and know many of the people on the stalls. There are a few that I always make a point of saying hello to: the Ordnance Survey folks in particular, who I've worked with over the years, former GA colleagues, and the folks at the RGS-IBG in particular. Publishers include Collins, Hodder, Cambridge University Press that I've written for.

There were some very useful resources being given out, and various prize draws, as well as activities. Plenty of fieldwork options, including John Widdowson.

I also visited Andy Day, who was representing Tutor2U. One particularly popular resource they were giving away was a tear-off marking pad for the long answer questions that are in the new 'A' level.

There was also a British Red Cross stand which had a copy of my resource. There was a little washing line activity too.
They also had the best pens.

What were your favourite stands? Who do you think had the best freebies?

Thought for the Day - RIP Robert Pirsig


I'm a big fan of the city of Lisbon and have visited numerous times over the years, including having my honeymoon there, 19 years ago.
It's a city that I only know part of, and there are obviously going to be large areas that I have never visited, and cultural connections that I haven't fully explored. The waterfront area was home to Expo 98.

There's a good video here:
YOU'LL SOON BE HERE from Fabio Petronilli on Vimeo.
A film by Fabio Petronilli - OUP once upon a place / films

In recent years, Lisbon has become one of the European Cities with the larger tourism growth. Each year, 6 million people come to visit the Portuguese capital: 200.000 tourists every day. Tourism brings opportunities in a city heavily hit by global crisis: about 15% of Portugal domestic product and 8% jobs in Portugal, nowadays are related with tourism. But in the meanwhile, the city is basically disappearing: over the last 30 years, Lisbon lost about 300.000 inhabitants, vacancy rate in the traditional centre is over 40%, about 5.000 buildings are disused, and today only 12.000 persons live in the city center. In April 2016 STADSLAB European Urban Design Laboratory of Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts (Tilburg, Netherlands) organized an international Masterclass on City Making & Tourism Gentrification for professionals and graduates: the urban intervention case-study was focused on Mouraria, one of the oldest Lisbon's neighborhood. Originated as a 13th century Moorish neighborhood and remained a marginal, multicultural and poor downtown area, nowadays, parts of Mouraria are already affected by tourism: cheap property prices and proximity to other tourist destinations raise realistic assumptions that Mouraria will soon face large influx of investment in real estate and tourism infrastructure. The opportunity is its economical development, but the risk is the lost of its identity.

STADSLAB - Masterclass on City Making & Tourism Gentrification - Lisbon, 15-22 April
in partnership with Academia Cidadã

MUSIC - "A Menina Dança" by Dead Combo (Tó Trips and Pedro V. Gonçalves)

This Guardian article has more information on this theme.

GA Conference 2017 #7 - British Red Cross Workshop

Up next was the British Red Cross Workshop.

This was a workshop I had spent a lot of time preparing, to go alongside a resource which had been downloaded hundreds of times, and took months to create.

I co-presented the workshop with Lucy Tutton from the British Red Cross.

We were placed in a room which was a little too small for the people who wanted to come and see us – so we emptied the chairs from the room next door and filled up all the gaps. Thanks to everyone who came along. We talked about the origin, structure and aims of the resource before showing some of its contents.
There were 4 activities which we encouraged delegates to have a go at, which included an IT activity using a tool called Nathan Light.
The presentation is here once again for those who might want to view it.

We talked through the resources, and Lucy filled in with some important updates and information from the British Red Cross perspective.
There were some ITE colleagues in the room, and their tutor later told me that they said it was excellent - always a bonus.

GA Conference 2017 #6 - Presidential Lecture

The Presidential Lecture was next, and a crowded lecture theatre.

Mary Biddulph had chosen the theme of ‘Inclusive Geographies’, and her lecture was not surprisingly connected with this idea. She talked about the work of the Young People’s Geographies project, and there was another runout for the famous Anton video clip. I was involved in this project with Mary as a teacher, with my Year 10 students, and then later supported Mary and Roger Firth to complete the project when working for the GA. We had some splendid project days and videos with Solly Street.

She also referenced the work of Joe Moran, who I have used in several projects, including his work on everyday (quotidian) geographies.

A good lecture, with interesting ideas relating to inclusion in the broadest sense.

GA Conference 2017 #5 - Day 2 Starting with Follow the Things

A bright day, started with breakfast in Starbucks and a flat white and croissant. I prefer COSTA of course, as they paid me to write their resources HERE.
The first lecture was by Ian Cook of “Follow the Things”.
A few years ago, Ian paid me to write some educational resources HERE

The session was about the use of Lego to produce stories related to trade justice issues and other controversial scenes and events. Ian talked about the work that he had completed as part of the work he does at the University of Exeter, and with an organisation called Fashion Revolution.
Ian spent some time describing the stages in the production of a Lego recreation.
He described the elements that make up the scene, and then how it is composed.
Facial expressions on the Lego figures are important, and he gave some tips on how to set up a scene which would tell a story, and also how to shop around for Lego to build up a collection suitable for creating these scenes. He had previously brought his Lego to the Ideas Zone at a previous GA conference, and there's a picture of me and Dan Raven Ellison here. Please click that link and go through Ian's Storify...

He showed us the picture below, which was then added to the Flickr account on the morning of the 4th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, which happens to be today.
It's here:

See the original page with all the details here.

He talked us through the ideas behind the recreation and the framing of the image.
  • Observing the scene.
  • Picture taken on phone.
  • Lighting – need to take it down
  • Make it a little out of focus and shadowy.
  • Claustrophobic sense.
  • Facial expression appropriate

The 4th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster is today, and there are going to be Fashion Revolution challenges completed at work over the next few days.

Ian shared some images on the Flickr feed but when people used the images elsewhere, the context and captions were lost. They were Creative Commons licensed, so designed to be shared. These new images have the captions on them. They are also inspired by the structure and phrasing of memes: These often start “When you….”

"When journalists film the cracks in your factory’s pillars".

He invited us to think about the production of such scenes and the thought process that goes into them. This is one way of revisiting a story and refreshing people’s ideas of the events and their meaning. He also introduced two artists who have used Lego in provocative ways. These included Zbigniew Libera , who made sets of Concentration Camps (one of the ideas being that there is no requirement to build one just because the instructions say that you have to) and also Lego Festo.

There was an interesting question at the end of the session which asked whether there were some issues which were too controversial to be made into Lego.

Ian also flagged up a MOOC which is to take place in the summer term called: Who made my clothes? which is being run through FutureLearn.

This is free to sign up to, and consists of three sections which can be completed at your own pace.

A great way to start the conference...

Image: Copyright Ian Cook et al

GA Conference 2017 - the official photos

These are Bryan Ledgard's photos from the conference. Did you go? Can you spot yourself here?

Fieldwork CPD course

Charlotte Brewer has shared news of a course being run at her school in Hertfordshire over on the Edexcel B Facebook Group page.
It's good value and may be of interest to some.
Click the image below for larger version and to see the contact e-mail and more details...

GA Conference 2017 #4 - ArcGIS Online now free for all UK schools

At the end of the GA awards, Stuart Bonthrone, the MD of Esri UK stood up and made an announcement which was in some ways inevitable after events previously in the USA, and also very welcome.

Stuart announced that from immediate effect, ArcGIS Online will be free to all UK schools.

Under the heading of "The Science of Where", Stuart then played a short video featuring the inspirational work of Thierry Torres and colleagues at Dover Grammar School.

If you want to know more, and sign up your school, head for the ESRI UK Schools page.

I also had the chance to meet Steve Richardson, who is being employed to produce new resources and materials for teachers to encourage more use of the tool in classes.
There are already over 60 resources available, with plenty more to come.

Finally, check out the GeoMentors programme, which pairs up schools with GIS professionals.

Sign up your school now

GA Conference 2017 #3 - First Day

I had a slightly elongated journey to the GA conference, starting the day in Devon, and driving up to Cambridgeshire, where I left my family to continue the journey home, and picked up the slow train south. Guildford is not my favourite venue because of how spread out various venues are, and it was a long journey, lasting over 7 hours. I arrived just in time for Peter Gibbs’ lecture to end. It was well received by those who saw it, and hopefully will be appearing in some form on the GA website. The awards followed, and there were some good resources receiving awards, as well as schools receiving Quality mark awards. I met Eeva and Ian from Follow the Things as my first ‘hellos’ of the event – the first of several hundred over the next few weeks. I also met up with the British Red Cross colleagues I worked on the GA resource with.
There was also a GA diploma for Andy Knill along with Andrew Turney.
For the 2nd time in about 9 years, I ended up with no awards... which is shocking of course ;)
One of the prize-winners was the company that made the Fairtrade Foundation videos, featuring Tayna, and she was there, so managed to grab a selfie with her...

The wine reception followed, which meant a huge range of chats. The networking at the GA conference is as important as anything as else. I caught up with previous colleagues, along with some of speakers, and committee members. After the reception, I walked up to the Albany Pub for a drink with friends to recce the Beermeet the following night, and was reminded of previous visits to the city. A long day ended with a night-time stroll back through Guildford to my Travelodge room.

Be a good Samaritan for a good Samaritan

I've just got back home from an excellent GA Conference, as you may have gathered from recent posts.
I'm going to be blogging the conference over the next few weeks with 15 or 20 posts on what I got up to, and some personal highlights. I travelled back into London, and when arriving at King's Cross station saw someone with a wheelie case struggling up the stairs, and at that moment realised I'd left my own case back at the conference venue on the committee stand where I'd been based...
My colleague Claire was still at the conference, and kindly offered to rescue my case.
Claire has an important day tomorrow - she's running the London Marathon for the first time.
I've already sponsored Claire, but if you're looking to sponsor someone for tomorrow, Claire is running for MIND, and her Just Giving page is here.
It would be great for her good deed for me to perhaps result in a small top up to her final total for such a worthy charity.
Thanks in advance...

GA Conference 2017 #2 - Storify

I've Storified 1000 conference tweets here... you're welcome :)

GA Conference 2017 #1 - Day 1

It's getting closer to the GA Conference. As always, I'll be live-blogging and tweeting through the event using the hashtag #gaconf17.
I'll be previewing some of the things I'm looking forward to in this post.

One thing that I'll be attending is the Teachmeet on the Thursday evening. I've put myself down to talk and this is the title slide of my talk... visit the page, and order your Eventbrite ticket if you want to come along.

I'll be wearing my SPC hoodie if it's good weather, and we've also got our lanyards.

Day 1 summary coming soon...

British Red Cross Earthquake

British Red Cross presentation by Alan Parkinson and Lucy Tutton at the GA Conference - 21st of April 2017
Thanks to everyone who came along...

Teachmeet Presentation

David Rogers Bloomsbury videos

David Rogers' 100 Ideas book is getting a good reception. He's also made a few short videos, which Bloomsbury are releasing, and you can see a few here... Follow the links down the right hand side...

9 billion people... is this sustainable

A Fi Glover debate on Radio 4 to download and listen...

Should we stop worrying about our growing global population and look forward to an age of abundance and prosperity?

In a debate recorded in front of an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Fi Glover examines the thoughts of pessimists and optimists She asks not only what they think about population growth, but also how their views are informed by their contrasting mindsets. Where does their optimism or pessimism come from?

Best-selling author and documentary maker Johan Norberg is an optimist, seeing positives wherever he looks. Population growth has coincided with a huge increase in prosperity and education levels, setting free our natural instinct to innovate. He believes technological advances will allow us to feed the extra mouths and clean up the planet.

Robin Maynard, a veteran campaigner and strategist and now chief executive of the charity Population Matters, has a very different view. He considers that even the current population is unsustainable, using one-and-a-half times the planet's resource limit, and adding billions more people will cause disastrous damage to the Earth's ecosystems.

Three expert witnesses are called to give evidence - statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter, Philosophy Professor Sarah Conly, and Joel Kibazo (former Director of the African development Bank).

The pessimist and the optimist cross-examine the witnesses and, to conclude, the audience votes. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Chartered College of Teaching journal access

I got my journal access e-mail from the Chartered College of Teaching earlier in the month. I had a go today to see what was available, and found a reasonable set of geography journals and articles to access free of charge. I already have JISC access to 'Geography', 'Teaching Geography' and 'Geographical Journal' through our GA subscription, but the CCT access also allows me to view articles from a number of databases.

Each database offers the access to a number of journals and articles.
A quick search revealed a useful article by David Lambert for example. Each article can be downloaded, and there is also a useful option to click the CITE button and you will be presented with the Harvard citations:

Lambert, D, 2011, 'Reviewing the case for geography, and the "knowledge turn" in the English National Curriculum', Curriculum Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 243-264. Available from: 10.1080/09585176.2011.574991. [16 April 2017]

Gridded cartograms

Currently working away on some GI Learner materials for the latest stage of the project, and I'm making reference to Ben Hennig's gridded cartograms. I was reminded of Ben's Worldmapper YouTube channel, which has a range of useful videos, including this one. It explains how the gridded cartograms work.

Allan Holdsworth - RIP

Another great progressive musician from my youth sadly gone - quite a supergroup that's assembling up there...
On drums it would be the late Pierre Moerlen, and here he is with Allan Holdsworth on a track they made together on the album Expresso II

Danny Dorling lecture on 'Leaving reality'

Given in November 2016
Some fascinating perspectives...

Ice Flows Game and Ice Bergs

I've been revisiting the Ice Flows game which has been developed by the University of Exeter, led by Dr Anne Le Brocq, with funding from the NERC.

It was made to help disseminate the work of a research project on Antarctic ice sheets.

From the website:

The game is called Ice Flows - because it does! Ice behaves like a fluid and flows due to gravity, much like a blob of treacle does, though a bit slower. Snow falls on the top of the ice sheet, and ice is lost at the edges and underneath through iceberg calving and melting.
If the inputs and outputs are equal, the ice sheet finds a balance – a “happy place” (or more scientifically, an equilibrium state), where the ice flows at a rate to balance these inputs and outputs.
The game is based on a simple ice sheet model which represents the way in which ice flows, and how that flow is altered by changes in the surrounding environment. Computer-based ice sheet simulation models are used by scientists to both understand how the ice behaves and to make projections for future behaviour.

Ice flows slowly, from a few metres per year, to several metres per day. In the game, time and space are modified to make the game playable.

The game would take a very long time to play if we didn’t speed up time, the game time for one level represents thousands of years, though changes in ice sheets over decades can cause a significant contribution to sea level change.
If the height and length of the ice sheet were representative of the real ice sheet , you would need to line up a few hundred phones in order to see the whole ice sheet. Hence, the ice sheet has been stretched in height in comparison to its length. Each profile represents about 1500 kilometres in length, and about 4000 metres in height.

This year is turning into a bumper year for ice bergs apparently, with reports of a large number in the sea off the coast of Canada, and into the North Atlantic.
It's just been the anniversary of a very famous ship hitting an ice berg last century.

The US Coastguard and the Canadian coastguard monitors the ice situation in the areas around the USA. There is likely to be an increase in their number as glaciers continue to retreat and become unstable. They have also been seen a lot earlier than usual this year. More signs of trouble ahead.

Icebergs are a resource of sorts. They are used for a number of things including water supply.

One (short term) benefit to an increased number of icebergs is that they are popular with tourists because of their beauty, so there may be more iceberg tours...

Dress for our Time

This has been something that has been popping up into my social media feed for a while: the Dress for our Time.
It connects with the work of the UNHCR and migration. Take a look at the movie below to find out a little more about the project.

GA Worldwise Week resources

Each week, the Worldwise week, organised by the Geographical Association has a theme which connects with the GA Conference theme.

A special pack on the theme of Inclusive Geographies is now available to download from the GA website.
This has some useful materials which connect with the PLACE topic which some colleagues are having some issues with.

The Worldwise week is the last week in June.
You can also download materials from previous years. I've been privileged to be involved with this for several years, while working for the GA.

Have this one on me....

Another Brexit angle...

It's always intrigued me that British people living in Spain and not working (they're retired and drawing British pensions) are called ex-pats whereas those from Spain (and elsewhere) living and working in Britain are immigrants... they're ex-pats too if you look at the definition...

This article in today's Guardian by Ian Jack is a good piece on the uncertainty that now faces these overseas residents about the possible status of their pension, healthcare, citizenship etc...

What's also interesting are the comments that follow (over 150 at the time of writing) which offer a range of perspectives on the issue, and which suitably edited would make useful resources for those exploring the issue of EU migration, Brexit and the choices people make as to where to live in their old age.

This is Living Geography...

Look who I met earlier in the week...

Unfortunately, it seems like we're all doomed, but had a good family visit to Madame Tussauds, which was about as trouble-free as possible unless you fork out £70 a head for a VIP ticket. Tesco vouchers, and turn up early was the trick, and given that it was Easter holiday, and some people queued for 3 or 4 hours, we were in fairly easily, and found it quite easy to see the figures that we wanted to as a family.
Some good memories made...

The DLAB Erasmus project

I've spent part of this holiday trying to get the next phase of the ERASMUS project that my school is involved in ready for the interim stage...
This project is called GI Learner.

You can use the search box top left to find out more about what we've done, and also follow us on Twitter @GILearner

I've come across another Erasmus project which includes UK partners (there are far fewer of these than there should be)
It's called DLAB, which is short for Digital Learning across Boundaries.

The Digital Learning Across Boundaries (DLAB) project addresses the need to align European educational practice with ways in which digital technology is changing how and what we learn, and how we apply this in education.
The purpose of this project is to promote digital learning across the boundaries of physical spaces, across curriculum subjects and across languages and cultures, to facilitate collaborative learning across national boundaries.
Over three years we have adopted three ‘learning across boundaries’ themes:
  1. Technology Outdoors: bridging formal and informal learning by extending learning beyond traditional classroom spaces and supporting learners with disadvantaged backgrounds by managing transitions positively through collaborative outdoor learning experiences.
  2. Stem to SteAm: adding the Arts to the integrated study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths creating inter-disciplinary challenge-based online learning resources.
  3. Technology Enabled CLIL: using curriculum contexts to teach language competencies and cultural sensitivity with aim of meeting the language needs of a diversity of learners, including learners for whom English is an additional language (EAL/EFL)

The website is taking shape, and has a range of materials.
This is a really helpful Padlet of Wild Writing tips....

Made with Padlet

Sense of Place

Havergey by John Burnside from Roseanne Watt on Vimeo.
"On the small and remote island of Havergey, a few years from now, a community of survivors from a great human catastrophe has created new lives and a new world in a landscape renewed after millennia of human exploitation. To this strange new land comes a traveller from our own time, bewildered by what he finds, and an object of curiosity for the inhabitants, especially the one assigned to watch over him, as he spends his first weeks on the island in Quarantine. Left alone with a history of the community and its roots, he uncovers truths and new mysteries about the people he has encountered, their forebears and the last throes of the old world. In this new novella, the acclaimed poet, novelist and critic brings his unique sensibility to the idea of utopia. A timely reminder about how precious and precarious our world is, it’s also a rejection of the idea of human supremacy over landscape and wildlife."

Published by Little Toller Books, April 2017

So many books, so little time...


A new internet venture from Victoria Hewett: Mrs. Humanities is her Geography Online website with a range of new resources for the courses that she is currently teaching.
It's a work in progress, but will no doubt develop into a valuable source of information for those teaching these courses, including the MYP and IBDP.

Good luck to Victoria for the UK Blog Awards next week too.

Go and see Tom in Pitlochry

If you're up in Scotland at the weekend, why not pop and say hello to Tom Morgan Jones, intrepid illustrator of the Mission:Explore books, including our rather splendid Mission: Explore John Muir book, which has been downloaded literally (and actually) hundreds of thousands of times.

As part of a week-long series of events in the run-up to John Muir Day (April 21), award-winning illustrator Tom Morgan-Jones will display his artistic prowess by producing pen-and-ink sketches on demand, focusing on John Muir and outdoor-related themes.

Tom has illustrated more than 70 books, including John Muir: Mission Explore, which encourages young would-be explorers to undertake a range of adventure activities inspired by the writings of the Scots-born founding father of nature conservation.

This Saturday 15 April from 11am, Tom will be in the John Muir Trust’s Wild Space visitor centre, where he will invite children – and adults – to request quick-fire drawings of anything connected with nature, John Muir or the great outdoors.

As well as getting chance to meet a top illustrator, visitors can also pick up up a free copy of John Muir: Mission Explore, which was created as part of a partnership between the John Muir Trust and Mission:Explore, a group of teachers, artists, activists and adventurers.

Kevin Lelland of the John Muir Trust said: “We see this as a day of fun and philosophy in the spirit of John Muir himself, who combined rigorous scientific exploration with a child-like enchantment at the wonders of nature.

“Tom is a great illustrator and we’re delighted he’ll be applying his talent in a light-hearted way to get people talking and thinking about John Muir and his ideas.”

When: Saturday 15 April, from 11amWhere: John Muir Trust Wild Space visitor centre, Pitlochry

Sustainable Shaun

Have you played the Sustainable Shaun game?
A nice introduction to some of the ideas behind sustainable cities.

The Forensic Records Society

Currently reading the new Magnus Mills book: as good as all the previous ones. I've started adding the tracks mentioned in the book to a Spotify playlist. They may not be a perfect match and the exact versions that the author meant, but it's a start... Explore the music below:


A new mapping tool, and a way of creating simple and striking maps of the world, or individual countries.
These are created by selecting options from the tool, including the map projection, and location. Choose a shape for the 'pixels' and colours for land and water. Finally, choose the size and spacing of the 'blocks' that make up the finished map.
Here's the UK for example....
Download the finished map in various formats.
Follow the links and you will find other mapping options from the same site, including weather options.

Geography Pop-up Shop

Simon Jones has been crafting a useful collection of beautifully designed and inexpensive resources over at his GumRoad pop-up shop.
They can be downloaded as PDFs, and include a range of resources as well as display materials, promotional posters, and ideas for teaching particular units. New resources are added all the time, and prices start at just £1 and don't go higher than £5.
The design is excellent, and they encourage an enquiry approach.
Check them out now.

Coming up to revision time

It's also coming up to the GA Conference time. 

I'm co-presenting a workshop on Friday afternoon on the theme of the new exams (which have no tiers) and supporting students with the new style of questions. As part of that, a while ago, I put together a list of some of the networks that teachers have developed to help support each other with the new exam specifications. These include some of the very busy Facebook groups and Schoology resource sites, as well as the Nings. I'm very proud to have started the first Ning of its kind nearly 10 years ago now, and which now has over 5000 members.

Here's the document that I put together.
And here's the details of the workshop... Come along if you're at the conference, and be prepared to share some of the strategies that you've used.

Networks of Support for New GCSE and 'A' Level v3 by GeoBlogs on Scribd

2.4 million page views

Thanks to all those who've visited and shared the work here.

Remember you can also FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @GeoBlogs to find out more items of geographical interest.


A short CNN video on the Fairphone. I've mentioned this before, and it's an interesting development which provides an option for those who are concerned about the environmental impact of their smartphone.
The product has conflict-free minerals and the supply chain is followed carefully.
Find out more here.

Holderness Coast StoryMap

A lovely piece of work by Steve Richardson. Another reminder of the value of using StoryMaps as curriculum artefacts.
Click the link to see the map full screen rather than the embedded version below.

Mark Beaumont - second time around

In August 2007, Mark Beaumont set off for a solo cycle around the world, aiming to set a new world record. Between the 5th of August, and the 15th of February 2008, he had an amazing adventure, which I've blogged about elsewhere in detail, as he smashed the record and returned to the start point in Paris.

Val Vannet, a great friend, and Mark's former geography teacher decided to follow the journey and blog about the route and the places that Mark passed through. She blogged the journey, and when she was unable to do it, I took over, following Mark through Australia, New Zealand and part of the USA, and then the final leg in France as he approached the finish line and Val went to meet him.

Since then, Mark has worked following the baton relay around the world, and also did an incredible solo cycle from the north to south of Africa in just 41 days.
Mark is now planning to cycle around the world in 80 days. Here is the planned route.
You can follow the journey via live tracker from the website.

This is a picture of Mark at the finish line in Paris.

Image by Val Vannet

Mark is warming up by cycling around the UK in 14 days. Here's the route, and you can follow him on social media and in various other ways, including on Strava.
Some resources to come once Mark's round the world challenge gets underway...

Royal Geographical Society Podcasts

The Royal Geographical Society has launched a planned new series of PODCASTS for geographers.

The podcasts, which will be released twice a month, cover topics relevant to the GCSE and A Level geography curricula, and feature original research from higher education institutions.

Steve Brace, the Society’s Head of Education and Outdoor Learning said, “The interviews with leading researchers are an ideal way for teachers and students to update and extend their geographical subject knowledge.”

Topics previously covered by the series include extreme weather in the UK, food security and gentrification in global cities. These are already available to download for free.

Future podcasts will feature mapping populations and displacement, and super-diversity and ordinary streets.
All the Society’s podcasts are free and available to download from iTunes

Eco-tourism case study courtesy of the BBC

I caught up with the BBC's new series on luxury hotels: Life beyond the Lobby, with Monica Galetti.

Description of the programme:

In the second episode of this eye-opening series, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti head to the Andean Cloud Forest of Ecuador to work at Mashpi Lodge, a $10 million modernist hotel featuring an extraordinary gondola cable car that 'flies' guests one mile through the jungle canopy at a dizzying height. Built by a former mayor of capital Quito on the site of what was once a logging station, 70 per cent of its staff are locals who used to be loggers or hunters but are now proud conservationists. Gloriously remote and perched 900m above sea level, guests are surrounded by one of the last remaining biodiversity hot spots on the planet.

Giles and Monica reveal the challenges of delivering the highest standards of guest experience in the midst of teeming wildlife, mud and moisture. They do battle with mold, the hotel's main 'enemy' thanks to 90 per cent humidity. They then abseil through the jungle canopy for a safety drill and prepare a unique local delicacy - guinea pig. They also spend time with the hotel's resident biologist, who has captured on camera species the area has not seen for 30 years.

Going beyond the lobby, Giles and Monica unearth a story of luxury in a surprising place and pioneering eco-tourism that is saving thousands of species. They also spend time with their new co-workers at home, uncovering moving stories of how local people's lives have been transformed by the arrival of the hotel.

We explore the idea of eco-tourism with Year 9 as part of a unit on Endangered biomes, and often ask the question as to whether eco-tourism is an oxymoron. Is it even possible? Take a look at this programme to help you make up your mind if it's been achieved here.

A few sweary moments... be warned if you're planning to use it with students.

Olympics seminar

This may be of interest to some people on the blog. It's a symposium on the Olympics run by Goldsmiths, and taking place in June.

In this symposium, we will investigate the changes accompanying the 2012 London Olympics, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  The meeting will focus on existing research and interventions concerning the ways that global events have been accompanied by urban transformations and new forms of social (dis)advantage and exclusions, in different urban/nation-state contexts. 
What does the future hold for existing Olympic Cities?  Are there ways of holding mega events which bring genuine benefits to cities and their citizens?  How might the promises of ‘legacy’ be realised in more open and democratic ways?

It's a free event, and may be of interest to more academic geographers, or students, or perhaps teachers wanting to up-skill themselves (if that's even a thing) as there is a requirement to get involved in the event in some way.
Thanks to Brendan Conway for the tip-off to the event.

Image of London Olympic park signage (taken before the games) : Alan Parkinson